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'You can teach an old dog new tricks' - Story of starving dog rescued from Orpington house fire to air on Channel 5's Dog Rescuers tonight

PUBLISHED: 10:16 25 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:24 25 July 2017

Police discovered Ollie was starving after a house fire broke out in Orpington

Police discovered Ollie was starving after a house fire broke out in Orpington

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The aging labrador was discovered last year

Ollie will appear tonight on Channel 5's Dog Rescuers with his new owner Barbara Heaton-SmithOllie will appear tonight on Channel 5's Dog Rescuers with his new owner Barbara Heaton-Smith

A starving dog who was only rescued from neglect after a fire broke out in his owner’s home is set to make his television debut tonight.

Ollie, a 14-year-old labrador cross was rescued by the RSPCA last year after blaze inside an Orpington home’s kitchen.

Neither Ollie or his owner were hurt in the blaze, but when emergency crews pulled the dog out, crews saw the old dog’s bones sticking out from starvation.

Inspectors feared he was so arthritic that he could only open his jaw an inch, and so the poor dog couldn’t eat and was almost starving to death.

“He was in such a state and for such an elderly dog I just can’t believe we’ve managed to turn things around for him,” said RSPCA inspector Anthony Pulfer.

“He’s a really nice dog and it upsets me that at 14-years-old he has spent all his life with someone who then lets him starve. Pets should have care throughout their lives from when they are born to when they die. Poor Ollie was emaciated, lethargic, dehydrated and running on air really.

“It soon became clear that the problems with his jaw had not been addressed by his owner and so he was struggling to eat or drink because of the pain. After being in our care his weight gain was tremendous, especially for an elderly animal. In just a couple of weeks he started putting on weight and you could no longer see his ribs.”

Ollie went on to find a new home in Cambridgeshire with older-dog advocate Barbara Heaton-Smith.

The teacher of veterinary nursing said: “He’s such a good boy. He’s completely deaf - when our smoke alarm went off my other geriatric dog Rosie was very distressed but he didn’t react at all.

“His tail will start wagging when I smile or if I look at him in a certain way he thinks he’s done something wrong - he’s learnt to pick up on these signals all by himself.

“I can honestly say after years of teaching vet nursing and caring for a geriatric dog that is deaf he has taught me a lot and shown me that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

“He has no jaw problems now and has such a healthy appetite that sometimes he steals Rosie’s food. He just doesn’t look like a dog who has been through all that.

“He’s definitely brought some joy into our lives and I hope we’ve brought some joy into his.”

Ollie will apppear with his owner on Channel 5’s Dog Rescuers tonight (Tuesday) at 8pm.

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